Tuesday, April 21, 2009

Can Boeing fly the 787 before the end of May?

I had an interesting discussion with a very knowledgeable industry journalist and we were discussing the prospects of Boeing flying the 787 by the end of May. This journalist told me he thinks Boeing can have Dreamliner 1 flying by the end of May (a well known aerospace analyst told me he thinks first flight will be in the 3rd quarter) and another leading and well known industry watcher concurs with the end of May time frame is possible if Boeing continues to have the same kind of success with the rest of the ground testing program it enjoyed with the factory gauntlet.

This brings up an interesting question and analysis of this question. I think Boeing can pull it off given the successful completion of the factory gauntlet (this is just a discussion piece based on my guesswork and estimates, nothing here came from Boeing or any sources). Here's how:

The 787 is pulled out of building 40-24 this week and is prepped for the start of intermediate gauntlet. Intermediate gauntlet starts next Monday (April 27th) and is completed latest by May 1st. If the test data is clear then the Final gauntlet starts around May 4th and in completed around May 15th including test data evaluation. Next comes the fun part with hot fire, taxi test, braking tests, V1 (rejected takeoff) over the next two weeks after that and then the big take off run to history!

Doable, but I'm still adding a couple more weeks for any issues or funnies to crop up and get fixed. That could take us to just before Paris Air Show time.


Anonymous said...


I too think it is a possibility but I am far from an expert. Boeing has built some extra time ino the schedule because the unexpected can happen and more time is required.

My question is whether the ease of the factory gauntet test augurs well for the next tests.

Did the fluidity of the factroy gauntlet indicate that the systems are working well and the hardware and software are well integrated and functioning smoothly.

Many people thought that if there was to be a problem, it would be with the software not the physical plane.

Anonymous said...

Appropos, why does it take six days to start the intermediate gauntlet test?

If it is out on the flightline by Wednesday, isn't there something that can start to happen in preparation?

I think the plane's tanks should or have to e cleaned out and refueled. Is there alot of connecting wires or test equiptment that has to be prepared??

Could you give us some color about the next stages...

Anonymous said...

According to press releases, the F-35 and the 777F each took 5 days or less from first moving under their own power to first flight. Is two weeks for ground/taxi tests overkill or are you padding the estimated time for unknown issues to be resolved? Am I missing something else that needs to be completed during this time that was not necessary for a derivative like the 777F? Thanks.

Uresh said...

The "ease" of the does seems like very good news but I think it also reflects the work that Boeing and supplier engineers did during the delay to mature the systems and work the bugs and kinks. I think this cannot be underestimated. Boeing had the systems in the systems integration lab testing and retesting them. I think that's why gauntlet testing went well. Does that mean that the remaining gauntlets will go just as well. Perhaps but the key difference is now all the systems are on one platform with engines and without external power being supplied. When the engines are running and the APU is on do these systems work well together? That's going to be answered in the upcoming tests.

As far as the timing between the first taxi tests and first flight...I think that timing should be pretty quick, 5 days, I don't know but perhaps a week. The 787 is a little bit more of an unknown quantity compared to the 777F.